Copper: the Basic Mineral for our Body's Health

Copper is an indispensable mineral for our bodies because it's responsible for many functions. It's present in legumes and nuts, among other sources. 
Copper: the Basic Mineral for our Body's Health

Last update: 10 September, 2019

Although all the nutrients that we incorporate into our body are necessary, copper is a very important mineral because it’s involved in various processes within our connective tissue, skin, and bones. Find out what it’s benefits are in the following article.

Facts about copper

It’s an essential trace element for life, which we must consume through food. In the periodic table of elements, it’s represented by the acronym Cu. Among its “tasks”, we find nothing less than fighting germs and preventing the onset of certain diseases.

Copper is a mineral that’s involved in the functions of vitamins and enzymes in charge of cells. This is how it protects us from free radicals, which cause so many ailments.

Besides that, it participates in the degradation of lipids, carbohydrates, and proteins. Moreover, it collaborates in the maintenance of our bone structure and the integrity of the central nervous system.

This micromineral is also vital to assimilate iron and regulate enzymatic reactions. In turn, we need it to produce the energy that our body uses, known as ATP. That’s why it’s crucial for athletes!

Consuming the right amount of copper

The recommendable dose of copper per day is 2.3 mg in adults. We can find it in a wide variety of foods:

  • Legumes (lentils, beans, chickpeas).
  • Beef liver and animal viscera.
  • Whole foods (cereals).
  • Dried fruit (nuts, almonds, raisins).
  • Seafood.
  • Plums and grapes.
  • Potatoes and dark leafy vegetables.
Legumes are a good source of copper.

While we all need to consume copper, the truth is that its intake is essential for certain groups of people. We refer to:

  • Those who suffer from morbid obesity.
  • People who’ve had a surgical operation.
  • Individuals who’ve received chemotherapy or radiation treatments.
  • People who have alcohol addiction problems (or consume it in large quantities).
  • Women during menopause; to avoid osteoporosis.
  • If you suffer from any burn or blood loss due to an accident.

We must bear in mind that if it’s present in high levels, copper can become toxic to the body. This is true, to the point that it can cause kidney problems, hepatitis, or brain disorders.

On the contrary, the lack of Cu can result in anemia, osteoporosis, alterations in the central nervous system, increase in gray hair growth, skin depigmentation, and loss of minerals.

 In the lives of athletes

We already know that copper is a very important trace element for our daily lives due to its involvement in may processes; such as the formation of collagen or the protection of the immune system. In a balanced diet, we shouldn’t have major problems to obtain this nutrient and its correct assimilation.

On a sports level, copper is really essential since it collaborates in the production of norepinephrine and also because of its participation in certain enzymatic reactions.

Cu also allows us to increase blood circulation to our extremities and that’s necessary for most sports, mainly in disciplines that require a lot of strength or demanding muscular work. Copper is a must if you lift weights with the purpose of increasing muscle mass.

Copper is needed in an athlete's diet.

We must take into account, for example, that if we consume a lot of fiber, it’s likely that it’ll eliminate part of the copper we’ve eaten.

Some athletes claim that when they change their diets, for instance, while preparing for a competition, they notice the lack of copper. It doesn’t mean that their deficit has clear symptoms, but they do experience loss of strength, endurance, or even lack of desire to train.

It has nothing to do with fatigue, it’s just the body not having enough of this important mineral to make the most of it. When the nutritionist is planning the weekly diet prior to a challenging event, we must make sure that those foods that provide us with copper aren’t lacking. 

Copper is one of the many minerals that can’t be missing in an athlete’s life or anybody else’s. Therefore, it’s necessary to incorporate it in the right amount of doses. If necessary, it’s appropriate to increase its intake prior to any competition or situation that requires it.

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  • Miraval, S., & Quispe, E. (2017). Importancia del cobre en el organismo / Importance of the copper in the organism. Apuntes Científicos Estudiantiles de Nutrición Humana.